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New Orleans Tells Local Business Leaders To End Support Of Genocide

Above photo: Pro-Palestine protester disrupts panel from audience. Fight Back! News/Jay Marcano.

New Orleans, LA – On Wednesday, March 13, angry New Orleans residents disrupted this year’s New Orleans Entrepreneur Week (NOEW) on its busiest day. Hosted by Idea Village, NOEW is a major networking event for tech startups, with the founder of Waitr as the featured keynote this year. Protesters disrupted this event 17 times, condemning Ideal Village’s sponsorship of the “Innovation Embassy” – a technological and trade partnership between the Port of New Orleans and the Port of Ashdod in Israel.

The action was organized by the local group New Orleans Stop Helping Israel’s Ports (NOSHIP), which seeks to end the Innovation Embassy agreement and cut New Orleans’ economic ties with Israel.

Idea Village was not the sole target at the conference on Wednesday. Protesters disrupted three panels, featuring fellow sponsors of the Innovation Embassy, Greater New Orleans, Inc. (GNO Inc.), Tulane and Louisiana State University, Entergy, Exxon, and Halliburton, among others.

Event organizers were caught off guard. “The nerve of you all to be supporting technological trade with the Zionist entity as it is engaged in genocide,” said the first protester as she stood up from the audience. Panelist Lucy McManus, executive director of Future Energy at GNO, Inc. responded by confirming that it is engaged in trade partnerships with the state of Israel, but that they are “concerned about the conflict in the Middle East.” Unsurprisingly, this did little to satisfy the protesters, who demand a withdrawal of GNO Inc’s trade with Israel in order to end its complicity in the ongoing genocide. “Genocide is not good business, this is not in the interest of the residents of New Orleans,” said a subsequent disrupter.

Notably, members of the audience began to leave the room as each disrupter continued to highlight each panelist’s ties with Israel. As representatives of Exxon and Halliburton Labs got on stage, disrupters focused on the business’ connections to local issues like industrial pollution in Louisiana. Exxon, with significant petrochemical operations in the state, was targeted for its pollution in “Cancer Alley,” where it produces jet fuel for the Department of Defense which is then sent to Israel. “Our brothers and sisters in Baton Rouge and Gaza can’t breathe,” said one protester.

As the disruption continued to prevent the continuation of the conference’s events, Idea Village met them with increasing hostility. Rory Macdonald, a trans student from Tulane University, spoke against Louisiana State University’s partnership with University of Haifa and its participation in the U.S.-Israel Energy Center Initiative. As they spoke, Tulane history professor and ex-CEO of CNN, Walter Isaacson, assaulted the student to remove them from the room. Both Isaacson and Tulane University refused to comment on the assault. Many other disrupters were pushed out in a similar manner by members of the audience.

Later in the day, New Orleanians gathered for a rally in front of Lafayette Square, where NOEW was having an outdoor concert. Local musicians played Palestinian tunes while protesters shouted chants such as “End the trade, stop the aid,” and onlookers watched with curiosity. “I’m no entrepreneur, but I know something about Israel’s economy, and it’s trash. Our job in the U.S. is to keep cutting it off from all kinds of aid. That’s why we oppose the Innovation Embassy., said Serena Sojic-Borne with the Freedom Road Socialist Organization.

Tulane University pro-Palestine students protest New Orleans Bookfest, one arrested.

By Silas Gillett/FightBack News!.

On March 16, 13 courageous members of Tulane Students for a Democratic Society carried out a die-in on campus to protest the school’s partnership with Israel. The demonstrators occupied the school’s central building during the nationally attended and Tulane-hosted New Orleans Bookfest. The festival is hosted by the university once a year and brings in thousands of attendees to watch panels and talks by well-known authors and public figures.

When the protesters were forced to leave under threat of arrest, they marched outside to join a rally planned to happen during the same time in front of the university. The rally was put together by a coalition of organizations including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), New Orleans Stop Helping Out Israel’s Ports (NOSHIP), and Freedom Road Socialist Organization. It was an emergency action protesting a Tulane professor grabbing a transgender pro-Palestine student so hard he gave them bruises on their arms and back. The attendees held signs urging an end to the occupation of Palestine by Israel and chanted slogans such as “Tulane, Tulane, you can’t hide! You’re supporting genocide!”

During the rally, police officers began to harass Rory MacDonald, the student who was battered while protesting for Palestine. After aggressively attempting to drag MacDonald back onto campus, the officers restricted them from returning to campus until the end of Bookfest.

In their speech after the event, MacDonald stated “Tulane says it loves free speech. Well today I protested on campus, and what happens? TUPD targets and harasses me”. Shortly after, the police aggressively arrested Toni Jones, a Black trans woman and prominent local activist, while she was exercising her right to free speech at the protest. She is a member of New Orleans for Community Oversight of the Police (NOCOP) which stated in a press release that “Tulane has a history of repressing Black activists, including students who protested TUPD during the George Floyd Rebellion in 2020.”

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